Gretel's Treasures

Follow her hunt for vintage jewelry and other treasures


Periodically I get mad at my small town auction.   There is one buyer, who insists on either buying everything, or ringing prices up.   Then she sells stuff cheap. Last week she sold a Czech Glass Art Deco Bracelet for 24.99, describing it as Victorian Carnelian. (need to insert emoji of eye roll here)  When this happens, I need to convince myself that I can find treasures elsewhere.  So today I took a road trip up I-95 to a different auction house.  This one sells jewelry lots, in little bags, but posts pictures online, so that you can see what will be offered.  So when I think of it, I check out there website, enlarge my viewing screen to 150%, and try and see what they’re offering.



This is a comfy cozy auction. Seating is provided, the auctioneers wear suits, and pictures of the items are projected on a large screen tv. Fancy stuff.   No Amish pretzels here.  Since this is a fancy city auction, you also get charged with a “buyers premium”. It ranges from 15-21% depending how you pay. This is like going to Walmart, and at checkout they charge you an extra 15% for the honor of shopping. This makes no sense to me. And it messes you up while you’re bidding. I forget to add the extra 15% to my bid in my mind.



The jewelry section starts first thing in the morning, this being the city, first thing is 10:00. Huddled in one corner of the showroom, we bid on little baggies of jewelry. Last night I went through the website and wrote down which lots were most promising (there were about 100 lots of baggies)  When I arrived this morning I opened up the interesting baggies, snooped around to see what was in the.   What I’m looking for is interesting glass, you might be looking for sterling silver,  modernist pieces, we all have different interests.   I was really happy with what I won, 5 lots, one bag of 37 bracelets was 100.00.  Personally, spending 100 dollars for a baggie of jewelry slightly freaks me out, but I’d done my research and knew I would be getting some goodies in the bag.



In the bracelet bag was one of the best art glass bracelets I have ever seen, missing a hard to replace stone. I may repurpose it, but I need to do some research with a Costume Jewelry  group to see how viable replacing the stone will be.  In the bracelet bag I also found Whiting Davis, Kramer, a tiny scarab bracelet,  a Sandor Bangle, and some mid century pieces.



I ended up spending 299.00! Ach. This is a lot for me to drop at one time.  And 45.00 of that is the buyers premium I pay. I don’t even get a Cracker Jack ring for that.   But, I ended up with 99 pieces of jewelry I think are sellable. That averages out to 3.00 a piece.   That’s a number my brain can work with.


So I walked out of there happy with what I got, I’ve run out of interesting jewelry to list, I still have hundreds of pieces, but they’re just not the greatest pieces.   It was  raining cats and dogs (and cows) when I came out, I could barely see the car in front of me.  I drove with the baggies in the shot gun seat, and I must confess fondling the beaded treasures during stop lights.  I’m just so happy with what I found today.



Tomorrow is Wed, I’ve packed up jewelry to sell, hope to meet up with my auction buddy Todd for lunch in the Amish restaurant, and maybe I’ll finds some more treasures. But I don’t have to buy anything, because I’m happy with what I got today.  This is my favorite piece, a porcelain dragon by Toshikane, Japan






Woke up to a warm humid rainy day. But that won’t stop me from going to the auction.  Very little can keep me away from the auction. Vacation and when they’re closed are basically the only times I don’t go. I used to buy all sorts of things, glass, pottery, clothes, anything that I could resell. This was back in 2011 after I lost my job.   I’m a super competent person, but where I live is very rural, and I just haven’t been able to find a full time job.   Educated in textile design, after having my own handwoven clothing business for 9 years, I burned out from that and became an academic library assistant. And I was really good at it. But there’s not much call for that in the land of crabs, fish and water that is Chesapeake Bay Country.   Since moving here with my family, I’ve worked at a marina, a doctors office, a bank and an insurance company. Sigh, none have worked out for various reasons.

Comic Relief Insert to Pity Party--Pee Wee Herman

Comic Relief Insert to Pity Party–Pee Wee Herman

So I found myself creating my own business, again. I’ve been a buyer on Ebay since 1997! So it made sense to create Gretels Treasures on Ebay and start treasure hunting. I used to go to yard sales, thrift shops, flea markets and finally auctions.   Selling a wide variety of items was trying and confusing. One day I take pictures of clothes I bought, then the next listing glass ware and animal figurines. I did this for a couple of years, but since I was 17 I collected vintage jewelry, and this was what I knew best. If you’re a writer, you write about stuff you know. If you are an Ebay seller, you should sell what you know best.

To Thine Own Self Be True

To Thine Own Self Be True

Every day is a learning experience. I learn to take better pictures. I learn to work social media. I’m a technophobe, so how did I end up on Twitter, Pinterest, Google Plus, Facebook, Tumbler, Keep AND Instagram? Baby steps. One little baby step at a time.   After being on Ebay for a year selling, I didn’t what to put all my eggs in one basket. So I expanded to Etsy. Both are great selling platforms, but different. Ebay is very structured, with lots of rules to follow. And they change about every 6 months. Etsy was a bit more warm and fuzzy, they want you to connect with your customer, and you have more control over how you sell. On Etsy you have teams you can join, and copromote your store and items.

Huh? Yes, Seen at the Auction!

Huh? Yes, Seen at the Auction!

I belong to 3 Etsy teams, each is a little different, but all are very supportive. I’ve made wonderful friends, and learned so much. I also belong to Facebook groups, who offer support with research and electronic business practices.

Puppy Memorial or Sweet Portrait?

Puppy Memorial or Sweet Portrait?

So now I go to an auction once a week, play jewelry princess, and try and find great treasures that I can find forever homes for. You can find anything at this auction, including a cannon this week. I realize this hasn’t been the usual Adventures in Jewelry Hunting with Gretel that you might be used to.

Boom! Opening Price was 13, bids duh

Boom! Opening Price was 13,000…no bids duh

I had a great week at the auction, including buying this case, which included a Hattie Carnegie Art Glass Necklace. Soon to be coming to an Etsy and Ebay store near you.


These are the best things I got this week…and the worst pictures. I can’t take good close ups with my Iphone…but I did want to show you:

Hattie Carnegie, Venetian Beads, and Lisner leaf necklace

Hattie Carnegie, Venetian Beads, and Lisner leaf necklace

Art Deco molded glass dress clip, Trifari jewelry set, Trifari bracelet, Scarab bracelet, Venetian Sommerso Bead earrings

Art Deco molded glass dress clip, Trifari jewelry set, Trifari bracelet, Scarab bracelet, Venetian Sommerso Bead earrings

Like I said, they’re really awful photos, and I’ve touched them up! Thank you for reading, I’m getting better at this



Let me start by saying I’m now on Instagram…if you like looking at cool old stuff please follow me. Every week I’m going to take a series of cool old stuff at the auction and post a picture or two every day. It’s a no stress way to get a daily intake of cool or weird old stuff.

Okay, back to vintage jewelry treasure hunting with Gretel…this week at the auction I suffered extreme costume jewelry overload.   This particular auction, in the hills of somewhere on the East Coast, usually has an assortment of jewelry ranging from the 1920s to the 2000s…. There can be a lot of junk, and an occasional treasure. Why does anybody think that Dollar Store Mardigras Beads need to be resold? Ah but this week was very different.

Rhinestone, rhinestones, rhinestones

Some Juliana Treasures

They had received boxes from an estate, I’m not sure if it was a collector, or a store, because there were massive amounts of very good quality jewelry. 14 large showcases to be exact. I wish I had taken a picture of all the shows cases (24 x 30 inch size) filled to the bring with great jewelry. Usually they sell a whole case, but this time they were selling individual items and small hand picked lots. Cases included antique bone and ivory, early plastic, Juliana rhinestone, Miriam Haskell (a lot), Art Deco, Mexican Silver, lots of signed pieces, Silver, amazing stuff.

Miriam Haskell treasures

Early Plastic Jewelry

One of the auctioneer’s mothers had the keys and was showing everyone individual pieces. Normally you can’t touch or see the backs of anything in the cases. My gosh, I just wanted to roll around in them.

More, more, more rhinestones

More, More, More Rhinestones

Here’s the thing, although I go every week to an auction, I have zero patience or tolerance for them! I’m lucky that jewelry starts at a certain time, otherwise I’d have to arrive at 8 in the morning, and wait around all day, just to have a chance at being outbid.


So we were surrounded by thousands of dollars worth of costume. (Remember this NEVER has happened before in the past 4 years I’ve been coming here) It was like sharks circling their prey, going around and around these cases. I had resolved myself that I wouldn’t be getting anything, because there were some heavy hitters with deep pockets. I’ve seen one woman bid 150.00 on a necklace that I would have sold for 75.00….either her market is better than mine, or I’m underselling things so please visit my Etsy and Ebay stores now.

More, more, more rhinestones

More, more, more rhinestones

When the time came to bid, we looked like 2 rows of people lined up in a church for communion. I of course, princess and treasure hunter that I am, lined up right in front of the cases I was most interested in bidding on. Once they got started things happened very fast. I had spent the previous 4 hours circling, picking out what I wanted to bid on, and strategizing. I was ready for the battle to begin.


Prices in general did not go crazy high. Higher than I’d like. For instance, 2 Juliana bracelets, one with matching earrings went for 130.00. I feel that was too high, they were not Easter Egg or Art glass bracelet, just nice chunky rhinestones. I ended up with about 30 pieces of jewelry and paid 390.00 for it. This is really a lot of money for me, but I got some great pieces. A gorgeous Art Deco signed Czech glass necklace, what I think may be an unsigned Miriam Haskell necklace, an Art Deco pair of rhinestone dress clips, 2 early rhinestone peacocks, a Coro duette bird set, a sterling rhinestone bird I think is Coro or Trifari, a Murano glass bead necklace, and other assorted jewelry. One pair of Juliana earrings, not great, but still. Here’s what I ended up with:

Final Results for the Day

Final Results for the Day

It was a long tiring day. And I had started it out with a cold to boot. I picked up Chinese food on the way home, and crashed the moment I got in the door. I am an introvert, and being around all those people and visual stimulation just wipes me out. Hope you enjoy my pictures.



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